Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

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Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:09 pm

Hi Folks

Not sure if this topic has been done to death and I just haven't searched correctly. Anyway, I have always found sourcing and selecting wood in NZ (for anything) a bit of a process. Even more-so for guitars. I have resorted to importing the woods for the 2 guitars I've made from Australia and have received excellent wood (blackwood and mahogany) and a lot of help which has taken all the guesswork out of it. But, importing stuff is expensive and customs make life difficult. There are some beautiful local woods for instrument but they are extremely expensive - more than I can justify spending at this stage. I bought a bit of Sapele the other day but on inspection its probably not suitable for a guitar (mainly because I stuffed up the measurement and its not wide enough..doh!), but Sapele is, at least, a reasonable price. Has anyone used Sapele for backs and sides and what do I need to look for to find a piece suitable - i.e. most is flat sawn, what do I look for for stability (I suppose its OK for necks too, if I can find some quarter sawn). What other reasonably priced timbers are suitable and where do you get them? I wondered about Maple - is that a bit 'mobile' though when its flat-sawn?

I'd be grateful for some suggestions.
Cheers
Richard

Andos
Myrtle
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Location: Taranaki

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Andos » Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:13 am

HI Richard,

Have you tried Graham from Treeworx in Matamata. He's on Trademe under the handle of paratu2. Just make sure you are specific about what you're after, otherwise you will be disappointed with what turns up. I've always found him helpful, friendly and not to expensive. Last time I looked he had some Solomon Island plantation rose wood (200x5 x 1.5m) at $15 a board and $25 frieght. He's also got some mangeao which makes a resonable top (but smelly to work with)!!

Ando

Bruce McC
Blackwood
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Location: Canberra ACT Australia

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Bruce McC » Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:23 pm

Hi Richard

Try searching under Instrument Builders Forum for posts by christian (Christian Druery).
Bruce Mc.

Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:50 pm

Thanks Ando.

I'll drop Graham a line and see what he has.

I found a bit of mahogany (or sapele?) I had forgotten about from a table made many years ago. It has a nice grain but appears to be flat sawn (as the growth rings seem to be on diagonals...is that right). I understand that soundboards are quarter sawn, which is easy enough to identify with spruce. If quarter sawn is a requirement for backs and sides too, then this bit of wood is probably unsuitable and I'm beginning to see why guitar wood is so expensive.

I've tried to paste photo links here...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/143232438 ... ed-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/143232438 ... ed-public/

Any thoughts/corrections?

Thanks

Richard

Andos
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Location: Taranaki

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Andos » Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:40 pm

I'm only an amatuer at this myself - and a rough one at that.
The closer to the 1/4 the better
BUT
I work on the theory that until I can produce a well hand crafted guitar I'm not going to waste a good quality piece of wood. Having done that once already with a lovely piece of indian rosewood!
If your luthier skills are up to scatch, get the nicest grained 1/4 sawn wood you can afford and go for it.
Any doubts, then make the most of what you have.
If it's not quite a perfect book match, if the grain at the tail isn't quite a perfect match, so what. Conentrate craftmanship - it's what folks see first - and sound. Cause if it sounds like crap it dosen't matter how good it looks.

That just my thoughts
And to remind myself, the fist thing I see hanging in the garage is a crappy sounding mandola and the rosewood back of a palour guitar with splintered sides. They just about brings me to tears!!

Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:57 pm

Well this is the back of my second guitar - mahogany. I was pleased enough with the grain and it seems very stable but I'm not sure how it was sawn. Sounds good.https://www.flickr.com/photos/143232438 ... ed-public/

Cheers
Richard

Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:52 am

Andos wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:40 pm
I'm only an amatuer at this myself - and a rough one at that.
The closer to the 1/4 the better
BUT
I work on the theory that until I can produce a well hand crafted guitar I'm not going to waste a good quality piece of wood. Having done that once already with a lovely piece of indian rosewood!
If your luthier skills are up to scatch, get the nicest grained 1/4 sawn wood you can afford and go for it.
Any doubts, then make the most of what you have.
If it's not quite a perfect book match, if the grain at the tail isn't quite a perfect match, so what. Conentrate craftmanship - it's what folks see first - and sound. Cause if it sounds like crap it dosen't matter how good it looks.

That just my thoughts
And to remind myself, the fist thing I see hanging in the garage is a crappy sounding mandola and the rosewood back of a palour guitar with splintered sides. They just about brings me to tears!!
That tough on yourself. I guess I wouldn't want that reminder - it'd rather put me off starting another. The approach I have taken is get the info - I bought the Gore/Gilet book as well as several other books, ask on this site as there is heaps of knowledge here, take it SLOWLY - each guitar took about a year a very small step at a time, on and off, and start with good (if not exotic) materials. So I bought sets of wood from an Australian suppler which was great. I figure if I'm going to invest months of shed time, I may as well have reasonable materials. As mentioned, I'm now looking for a more local way of getting some (if not all) of the wood but I'm realising I really don't know what I'm looking for in terms of grain - hence the questions. Sounds like you are 'just up the road' so if you'd like to compare notes, send me a PM :).

Cheers
Richard

Andos
Myrtle
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Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:12 pm
Location: Taranaki

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Andos » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:25 pm

About 2 hours up the road lol

I learn by mistakes. I've learnt a lot about timber since I started building. The misses hasn't worked out the cost of this year's firewood yet!!!

Here's a few other places to try

NZ Native Timber Supplies
Waikanae
(04) 2932097

Last I heard he had some 200x50 black maire for $100/m

Rarefind Timber
Up the waikato somewhere
He does back and side sets for $400 upwards
But he's good some lovely looking pieces. He also has tops and necks.

Let me know how it goes

Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:54 pm

Rarefind timber has some very nice wood - I have contacted them before. However, I think $400 for a set is beyond my budget. In the end its probably still most economical to import. I'll keep looking.

Cheers
Richard

seeaxe
Blackwood
Posts: 507
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:20 pm
Location: Auckland NZ

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by seeaxe » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:46 pm

Hi Richard, another Richard here in Auckland.

My thoughts for what its wroth

There's plenty of wood for guitars in NZ, just not the "usual suspects"

I have found Timspec in Auckland have been very helpful and used to have a stack of random hard wood out the back that they were happy for me to rifle through. They had Sapele by the packet load and lots of other stuff. Have a look at this for some samples, I assume most of the rack was leftovers from making flooring https://ititimspec.nz/Furniture/6658/

Another place worth visiting is South Pacific Timber in Ruru St, Mt Eden. They have a stack of odd pieces of timber, last time I was there there was a very large chunk of ebony. I was tempted but I didn't need that many fretboards... https://southpacifictimber.co.nz/products

SPT also sell a lot of New Guinea Rosewood and Kwila. NGR is nothing like as good as EIR but it is a rosewood and its nice to work with. The grain is a bit boring but thats a good excuse to bling up the trims. I know a local luthier that uses it for back and sides on his guitars and he sells them for many thousands of dollars - you can make a nice guitar with it. He also buys cedar from a local importer and uses that for tops. They also occasionally sell off random lots of timber on Trademe using $1 reserve auctions. Can be a bit of fun. I'm still using the last of one I bought!

Both timber places were very helpful when I explained what I wanted it for. You do actually have to go there and ferret through the stuff to find some quarter sawn stuff. That could be a problem for you, assuming you aren't in wonderful Auckland.

I have also used kwila a couple of times now and it has a very nice tap tone. Again the grain is boring but it will make a nice sounding guitar.

Demolition timber yards (if you can find one) will sometimes have some good stuff but I have had mixed outcomes with finding borer and or nails in it. Can be a bit iffy.

I've been meaning to get down to Rarefind for a while, am heading that way in October so might pop in and see them.

As for quarter sawn versus flat sawn, I see a lot of fancy guitars in shops, Ibanez, etc that have clearly used flat sawn timber for backs and sides. Its possible but better make sure its properly dry and you have it very well braced. Much safer to use quarter sawn if you can get it.

HTH and good luck.
Richard

Richardl
Myrtle
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: NZ (Palmerston North)

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by Richardl » Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:37 pm

Hey Richard

thanks for that. I've bought wood from Timspec before for clocks and a couple of harps but just got what they sent, which was fine for the job. Looks like I'm going to have to spend a day or two in 'wonderful' Auckland hunting through wood piles. I'm in Palmy and there is nothing local - nearest is City Timber in Wellington but they didn't have any quarter-sawn when I visited them a few weeks ago.

Cheers
Richard

seeaxe
Blackwood
Posts: 507
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:20 pm
Location: Auckland NZ

Re: Selection of timber - e.g Sapele

Post by seeaxe » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:37 pm

Well if you do decide to come up let me know and I can ferry you around the various places, if that helps. Always fun to have a nosey.
Cheers
Richard

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